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Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) - Shepherd Neame Ltd

Not Rated.
Spitfire (Premium Ale Export)Spitfire (Premium Ale Export)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
81
good

303 Ratings
THE BROS
89
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 303
Reviews: 155
rAvg: 3.56
pDev: 16.01%
Wants: 9
Gots: 23 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Shepherd Neame Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Pale Ale |  4.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-21-1998)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) Alström Bros
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Ratings: 303 | Reviews: 155 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
2.88/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Aggressive carbonation and lots of hops and dry bitterness. Brown but big hop bubbles are nice. My son liked it, it was Ok for lunch, but only a so-so. Some citrus, a little carmel and malt, nuttiness and grainiess. Metallic on mid sip. Medium mouthfeel.

Sammy, Mar 06, 2005
Photo of djrn2
2.75/5  rDev -22.8%

djrn2, Jan 20, 2014
Photo of acurtis
2.75/5  rDev -22.8%

acurtis, Jan 20, 2014
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Limpid dark orange with orange juicy highlights. The smallish, khaki colored cap is dense, has a wonderfully bubbly surface and leaves gobs of sticky lace. A nice look.

I'm still waiting for the day when I pop the cap on a clear glass bottle of beer and don't smell skunk. It usually fades to a considerable degree and sometimes even fades completely by the time I'm ready to assess the nose, but it'd still be nice to not have to experience it at all. Obvious solution: stop using clear glass! Tradition be damned, it's idiotic.

The nose smells a trifle musty, and even a little musky, but no skunk remains. The focal points are toffeeish malt and hugely herbal, overripe fruity English hops. There's plenty of power to be had, but the somewhat stale mustiness keeps me from being overly impressed.

Spitfire (Export) is a flavorful little sucker, I'll give it that. The firm, dry, heavily toasted malt base reminds me of toasted whole grain bread. Caramel and toffee comparisons apply to some extent, but the sweetness that goes along with those flavors (at least in my mind) is virtually absent. Accessory flavors include overripe apples, cinnamon and faint hints of tobacco.

The flavor declines abruptly on the swallow, but doesn't completely vanish. What remains is a lingering dry bitterness, coupled with a tangy tartness that keeps the good impressions flowing. The mouthfeel struggles to be medium for the style and actually fits the clean nature of the flavor profile fairly well.

"Originally produced in 1990 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain". Spitfire is a spunky little English pale ale with loads of personality and an abundance of classic EPA flavor. I had a good time with this one.

BuckeyeNation, May 21, 2005
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.23/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a nut brown colored ale with a nice off-white foamy head with average retention. Aroma is comprised of lightly roasted malt and bitter hops. Taste is better then your average bitter with some lightly sweet malt mix with biter hops leaving a clean dry taste at the end. Overall, an above the pack English bitter.

Phyl21ca, Oct 29, 2004
Photo of oberon
3.79/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Found this one at Cork'n Ale back home in Saginaw,Mi,poured a nice copper color with medium head,has a hoppy aroma.Pretty dry ,appetizing taste with some nice bitterness.Very nice medium body,very drinkable,should have gotten more than one,I will be looking for more ales from this brewery for sure.

oberon, Mar 30, 2003
Photo of biboergosum
4.05/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml, clear bottle, nice Spitfire bulls-eye cap. An ode to the Battle of Britain, with that so English of constructs, the pun: hence, the 'Bottle of Britain'...

This beer pours a clear medium golden amber hue, with one finger of foamy, somewhat creamy ecru head, which leaves a random drooping tree canopy of lace around the glass in its retreat to the Tube. It smells of bready biscuit malt, and bitter grassy, floral, dusty hops. The taste is more of that same bitterness up front, the slight mustiness tinging the grassy and earth character. Underneath, and not lagging by much, is a sturdy cereal/biscuit graininess, one which tugs nicely at the palate. The carbonation is present, but pleasant enough, the body medium-light in weight, and adequately smooth. It finishes fairly dry, the crisp grain and hops riding out in splendid unison.

Well, the see-through bottle had me feeling a wee bit trepidatious, but that was soon dispelled - this is a well-balanced, yet still decently flavourful EPA - not a lot of that makes it to my 'hood.

biboergosum, Oct 13, 2011
Photo of JAHMUR
2/5  rDev -43.8%

JAHMUR, Dec 04, 2013
Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.08/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from an 11.2oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains caramelized malts, honey, some citrus and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out bready with flavors of grain and a hearty malt character. Then some mildly sweet flavors of caramel and some honey come in. The hops presence is mild and there isn’t as much balance as you look for in the style. The after-taste is slightly bready.

M: Crisp but not very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

O: Not very tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, mild kick, decent representation of style, there are definitely several other choices in the style that are better.

TheManiacalOne, Mar 30, 2014
Photo of Slatetank
4/5  rDev +12.4%

Slatetank, May 25, 2013
Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev +12.4%

Rochefort10nh, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of smcolw
3.56/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Modest head with some spots for lace. Gold color and nearly clear.

Creamy caramel malt start. Little hop nose.

This is quintessential mass produced pale ale from the UK. Low carbonation with a rich body, this beer leans to the malty side. I do catch a modicum of hop flavor in the swallow but it doesn't last long.

smcolw, Jul 13, 2014
Photo of XmnwildX12
2.25/5  rDev -36.8%

XmnwildX12, May 09, 2014
Photo of BlackHaddock
3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Can't believe I've never reviewed this before: this hand pulled pint was taken at a local pub on the 4th sep 2011.

Reddy brown body with an off-white topping which hung around throughout the pint.

The smell and taste can be easily combind, you'll find semi-sweet biscuits that contain toffee, caramel and nuts within the mix, towards the end of the mouthfeel a dry hoppiness pops up to remind you this is a proper beer.

Sadly the body is a bit watery thin, a shame because everything else about the beer is fine, well carbonated and easy to drink.

BlackHaddock, Oct 08, 2011
Photo of kojevergas
2.08/5  rDev -41.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Served from a bottle into a Guinness pint glass in low altitude Galway, Ireland.

A: Clear gold colour. A bit overcarbonated. Three finger, creamy head of excellent retention.

Sm: Fresh creamy scent, barley, hops. The toffee scent advertised is missing.

T: Hops, hops, more hops, and barley. Horrible finish. I can't place it - but I know it's awful. Terribly built. I guess the awful finish is balanced against the body well (at least they match!).

Mf: Almost dusty. Certainly musty. Sandyish. The finish (at least in texture) gets a bit softer.

Dr: A damned disappointment, especially coming from Shepherd Neame, a brewery I've enjoyed in the past. What happened?

kojevergas, Mar 09, 2011
Photo of oriolesfan4
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%

oriolesfan4, May 24, 2014
Photo of woodychandler
3.95/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I am now committed to reducing, if not eradicating, my backlog of bottles. This one was part of a local, in-person trade with tone77.

From the bottle: "The Bottle of Britain"; "This 4.5% Kentish Ale was first brewed in 1990 to celebrate the Battle of Britain which was fought in the skies above Kent 50 years earlier."

One wag told me that its unofficial motto is "Spitfire - downed all across England!" Ha! If it is only "Kentish", what might a full-on Kent beer be like?

It was a small, 11.2-fl. oz. bottle, so I thought that I could invert it until the pseudo-cascade began and foam began approaching the top of my glass at an alarming rate. It settled into two puffy fingers of tawny head with good retention. Color was a solid amber (SRM = 13) with NE-quality clarity. Nose had a soft, buttery quality, undoubtedly from using hard water in its production. Biscuit malts were also present and I watched the head slowly fall, leaving some nice lacing in its wake as I anticipated that first sip. Mouthfeel was medium and the flavor was bready, biscuity, buttery and slightly sweet. I am guessing East Kent Goldings hops for a mild grassiness. In keeping with the style, this was much more restrained than its American counterparts and as such, was a nice change of pace for yours truly. I rarely truck in either imports or bottles and so this was a rare treat. Its relative mellowness was like a cup of tea after that coffee porter. Warming, the taste took on a nice nuttiness that only enhanced its mellow flavors. Finish was semi-dry and quite refreshing. Well done, lads!

woodychandler, Jul 14, 2014
Photo of tempest
3.88/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask at the Speaker in London. I had a half pint with the lunch crowd and a bad of "pork shavings." It appeared clear orange, filled to the brim. The ale has a big nutty, walnuts and cashews along with sugar cookies and digestive biscuits. A bitter British hops aftertaste with dry toast finish close out this tasty beer.

tempest, May 03, 2009
Photo of wl0307
3.35/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Clear, 500ml bottle, BB: (see neck) nothing there~~
A: in a straight pint glass it pours a reddish chestnut hue, coming with a thick, very frothy, off-white beer head full of medium and small air cells, sustaining very well and supported by a constant and moderate carbonation.
S: very light caramel-hinted maltiness, buttressed by a flow of floral and lightly earthy hops with an edge of caramelised sliced-orange. Overall, the smell is softly orange-fruity as well as mildly flowery, balanced with good body of moderate caramel maltiness--quite pleasant~~
T: bittersweet maltiness prevailed upfront, decorated with a hint of caramel (without the sweet edge); flat-textured leafy hops and moderate bitterness manifest at the back, with moderate lingerness. Quite mild the overall flavour is, and the fruitiness is somehow too restrained compared to the nose.
M&D: overly fizzy on the mouthfeel and shows no sign of softening after quite many sips, making the drink slightly too stimulating for the relatively mild flavour and a surprisingly light body. The nose of this bottled version is perhaps clearer and more aromatic than the cask verion, but the flavour and structure is way below supposed performance.I'll rather stick to the casked Spitfire in the future.

wl0307, Dec 17, 2005
Photo of biegaman
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It's no wonder Spitfire is sold in clear bottles - if I had a such a tanned, sexy blood orange body I'd want to show it off too (well, that's kind of a lie, I'd probably go see a doctor). It's an appearance that takes the tone of the marmalade and toffee notes of its aroma. It's an ESB with a lovely colour, gummy head and lace, and a clear, glistening complexion.

I'll just come out and say it: Spitfire will be boring to some. It's not its fault, it's just the style. North American ales are often distinguished by their aggressive hopping - magically enchanting notes of pine resins, tropical fruits, and alpha acids so sharp you can cut your finger on them - but British ales gain their distinction by more subtle means and are far more understated by nature.

The noteworthy features of this one are, as in so many others, not especially noteworthy at all: stiff water minerals, an unembellished maltiness, and the odd yeast ester. The result is a beer that drinks like a seltzer water infused with toffee and dried fruits. There's not a ton of character beyond the customary toffee-ish malts, marmalade sweetness, the odd raisin-like nuance, and...

the three varieties of distinctly spicy and pungent Kent hops! This might not pack the IBUs or flamboyant fruitiness of an American IPA, but its hoppiness is no more easy to miss. The mouthfeel has a vegetal kind of bitterness - like the center of a raw cabbage - that almost simulates chewing on an actual hop (something I don't recommend). It's very herbal.

It's only befitting that a beer released to commemorate the Battle of Britain - brewed by Britain's oldest brewery - be so quintessentially British. There's no mistaking this as an ale from any other part of the world; its hard water profile, biscuity malts, dried fruit esters, spicy hops, and mild, approachable manner are the very things that define the proud English brewing tradition.

biegaman, Feb 25, 2014
Photo of Latarnik
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%

Latarnik, May 31, 2014
Photo of dmorgan310
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%

dmorgan310, Mar 19, 2014
Photo of rolltide8425
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%

rolltide8425, Jul 24, 2012
Photo of bark
4.22/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The colour is medium copper; the three finger pale beige head is firm with a very nice crater. Some lacing. Liquid is clear.

The smell is malty with some light metallic bitter flavours. I found notes of apricots and some gravy.

The taste is malty with some sweet notes of wheat bread and rye crisp bread. Some butter/cream diacetyl, as some herbs (not that usual in English ales) and a very mild hint of yeast. The bitterness is low, almost as in a Mild, but there are some flowery and spicy hoppy flavours and a touch of burned toast that I haven’t found elsewhere. Medium body. The aftertaste is dryer with some more spicy bitterness and a balancing malty sweetness.

The carbonation is quite strong; very small bubbles. The liquid is a little watery.

A surprisingly stubborn beer, considering that it is one of the most common English ales available in Swedish pubs. One of my favourites.

bark, Jul 31, 2007
Photo of ccrida
3.43/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On cask at the White Hart in White Chappel, Spitfire is auburn with an off-white head leaving heavy lace.
Smell is lightly sweet, orange citrus. A slight off note reminiscent of city storm drain steam, which I could obviously do without. I thought it might have been a whiff passing through the pub at first, but I got it consistently over the length of the pint.
Taste is bright minty, herbal hops, a bit bitter on the finish with a nice cracker malt flavor.
Mouthfeel is light.
Drinkability is high, a nice malt flavor countered by the hops, in a balanced, restrained package. Just try not to sniff too much!

ccrida, Sep 26, 2012
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Spitfire (Premium Ale Export) from Shepherd Neame Ltd
81 out of 100 based on 303 ratings.